Government & football aim to tackle discrimination

Football officials and players came together at Downing Street today for a summit aimed at tackling discrimination in football.

The Prime Minister was joined by John Barnes and Graeme Le Saux along with representatives of the FA, PFA, Premier League, Football League and anti-discrimination groups for the meeting aimed at combatting racism and homophobia in football.

The summit, convened following recent incidents of alleged racial abuse involving Luis Suarez and John Terry, aims to forge closer links within football to make the game more inclusive.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt hailed the discussions as “useful and productive".

“We recognised that huge progress has been made in the game of football over the last couple of decades but there is absolutely no room for complacency," said Hunt.

Discussions covered areas where it was felt that "more work needs to be done", including the lack of black managers in professional football, concerns over racist comments on Twitter and how to tackle homophobia in football.

“We looked at the progress that has been made in tackling racism and asked could we do something similar when it comes to homophobia," Hunt added.

“We observed the fact that there are 563 Premier League players but at the moment none of them are out as gay.

"We talked about whether that is partly because gay people don’t want to become Premiership [sic] footballers because they are intimidated by the potential atmosphere, but also that whether those that are Premier League players don’t feel that there is an environment that makes it possible for them to come out."

The Prime Minister has asked the Football Association to produce a report on what they, other football bodies and government can do to tackle the issues discussed at the summit and take the agenda forward.

FA Chairman David Bernstein said that he was "really encouraged" by the positive nature of discussions and the "unified views expressed.”

“We are looking to move this forward, to really let actions speak louder than words," he added.

"We have committed to coming back with a detailed follow-up to this within the next two months.

“It’s extremely encouraging; very important football and social issues that we are dealing with. I’m sure we’ll make good progress.”

The government also used the summit to announce a £3m investment into the development of St George's Park, the FA's new national football centre.

The funding will be used to help increase the number of qualified coaches in the country which, along with other specific initiatives, will also encourage more people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds to gain the necessary credentials for coaching and managerial positions at the top of the game.


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